Review: I do like to be beside the sea with Karen King’s Cornish Hotel by the Sea

Cornish Hotel cover (2)As you’d expect from someone who cut her writing teeth at Jackie magazine, author Karen King writes with confidence and style.

Hand on heart, romantic fiction isn’t my preferred genre – I’m more of a whodunit fan – but if anyone could convert me, King could.

Her new release from Accent Press, The Cornish Hotel by the Sea is a perfect demonstration of her story-telling expertise: a nicely believable plot that builds at a satisfying pace without getting bogged down in long descriptive passages, which could have been a temptation given the glorious setting.  Continue reading

Review: Katharine Johnson deserves loud applause for new crime thriller The Silence

The Silence Cover (2)It’s not often I get to the end of a book and find myself lost for words – although perhaps that’s an appropriate response to a book titled The Silence.

I turned the last page and thought: ‘Oh!’

(Strictly speaking, I didn’t turn the page, I swiped my kindle. But you get the point.)

And, it wasn’t: ‘Oh, that was unexpected.’ Or even: ‘Oh, I enjoyed that.’

Although both of those are true.  Continue reading

News: Why taking chances pays off – a guest post on Rachel’s Random Reads

Susan Pape (left) and Sue FeatherstoneEver wondered how Susan (left) and I ended up with indie publisher Lakewater Press – a fabulous boutique publisher, based in Queensland, Australia, and run by an Englishwoman?

Find out in my guest post about taking chances on Rachel’s Random Reads.

Blogger Rachel Gilbey is hosting ‘Chances Fortnight’, a series of daily features where different guest bloggers write about the chances that changed their lives. Continue reading

Review: Wolves are out for Varg Veum, hero of Gunnar Staalesen’s Nordic crime series

wolves in the dark cover (2)Quite by coincidence I’m writing this review of Nordic noir thriller Wolves in the Dark by Norway’s legendary Gunnar Staalesen shortly after a particularly intense trek with my Friday Nordic walking group.

Appropriate really because this latest instalment of Staalesen’s long-running Bergen-based Varg Veum series is equally intense, with a brutal plot and at least one genuine sharp intake of breath moment.

As the novel opens, Veum, who debuted in 1977 in the bizarrely titled The Buck to the Sack of Oats, is still reeling from the death of his great love Karin. Continue reading

Review: Another one to watch in Rachel Amphlett’s DS Kay Hunter crime series

One to Watch Cover LARGE EBOOK2 (2)Goodness me! There are enough red herrings in One to Watch, the new thriller from Rachel Amphlett, to feed a smorgasbord of crime fiction readers.

First, the guilty person just HAD to be X.

Then it was definitely Y and I never saw Z coming until the last couple of pages.

Although, perhaps that’s because making Z a murderer breaks one of the cardinal rules of classic crime fiction.

Unfortunately, I can’t tell you which one because then you’d know whodunnit. Continue reading

Review:  Linskey’s daring tale celebrates the heroes who assassinated Hitler’s hangman

Hunting the Hangman Blog Tour Poster (2)My dad was ten-and-a-half when the Second World War broke out.

And he was 12-or-thereabouts when his father took him out in the fields near their Warwickshire home and taught him how to load and fire the old rifle hidden behind a coat in the hallway.

The lesson was just in case Grandad wasn’t home when the Germans invaded and Dad needed to defend his mother and sisters and younger brother against the enemy.  Continue reading

News: Book lovers’ booklist nominated for hidden gem title in Bloggers Bash Awards

Susan Pape (left) and Sue FeatherstoneTake a good look at the two women pictured here.

Do they look like a pair of hidden gems?

Of course, they do!

We, or rather, our website Book Lovers’ Booklist has been nominated in the Hidden Gem category of the annual Bloggers Bash Awards.

It’s a huge thrill just to have been nominated because it means that someone somewhere likes what we do on the booklist.

Voting closes on Friday (June 2) so there’s still time to get your voting fingers ready to push the button for

You can find out more about the awards and information about how to vote here:

Review: Greenwood’s Love on the Dole is a modern classic for Theresa May’s one nation Britain

Love on the doleMaggie Thatcher was newly installed as the UK’s first female Prime Minister the last time I read Walter Greenwood’s Love on the Dole.

She took office in May 1979 in the middle of a recession and in the wake of Labour’s Winter of Discontent.

And, as she entered the door of No 10 Downing Street for the first time as premier, she spoke some lines from a prayer by St Francis of Assisi.

‘Where there is discord, may we bring harmony. Where there is error, may we bring truth…where there is despair, may we bring hope.’ Continue reading

Extract: Stella Lastings makes her debut (taken from A Falling Friend)

Dan had been commandeered by Stella Lastings (what was a History bod doing here?) I try to give Stella a wide berth, and not just because she is a size eighteen and needs wide-berthing.

I can’t understand how someone who teaches History is so caught up in the present, as in staff room goings-on.

There is no subject to do with anything or anyone in the university that she hasn’t got some take to add to the drama. If she can’t find any fresh gossip, she makes it up. She once started a rumour that Lee was having an affair with Mike Orme, our deputy dean, on the premise that the speed at which information flows accelerates in direct relation to the strength of the rumour i.e. the more likely a piece of gossip, the faster it would spread through the faculty.

And although nothing could be more unlikely than Lee having an affair with anyone, let alone someone who wears knitted tank tops, this particular rumour spread rapidly.

extract 2

Meanwhile, Stella was doing her squirming act for Dan. She is pretty with silly blonde curls, and she squirms in a girlish way when talking to men as though she is an insecure six-year-old.

Having a visceral dislike for women like that, I couldn’t bear to watch. I know that’s judgmental of me, but why do girly women think squirmy/flirty is attractive?

Men apparently fall for it.’


Viewpoint: Characters – where do they come from?

Ask many writers where their characters originate and they’ll shrug and say they came from within their imagination; they appear or develop over time.

For me, they’re often sparked by spotting someone in a coffee shop or on a train. I won’t take the ‘whole’ person, but rather ‘pieces’ of them – the way they walk, the way they’re dressed, or something they say – and blend them into a character.  Continue reading